While students today have to worry about ACT and SAT scores, many now have another test to worry about. Colleges are beginning to use the HAT or History Admissions Test to select which students are granted entrance into a history program. This test is given when you go for your pre-admissions interview. The top schools such as Cambridge and Oxford are now requiring the test. Consider the following facts about the HAT and how you can prepare if you have to take it.

What Is HAT?


The HAT test is two hours long and involves two pieces of reading and four answers. The test asks students to answer questions about the pieces in order to judge comprehension and ability to represent one’s ideas. The first piece relates to history and the questions are designed to find out what you know about understanding a piece in historical context. The second piece is random and seeks to find how you would interpret a piece without knowing what context the piece was written in.

How Do I Prepare?

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Preparation for the test is almost impossible. This test doesn’t allow you to study specific facts and recite them for credit. Instead the test measures what you know through unspecific facts.  The only option for preparation is to try and write out your evaluations of pieces you find in historical volumes. This may increase your comprehension and prepare you for the writing process.

What Schools Require the HAT?

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Several schools now require the HAT in order to qualify for entrance into a history program. However, in most cases these are school that have long established and distinguished history programs such as Cambridge and Oxford.

Does the HAT Test Cost?

Most schools do not require you to pay for the test as it is a part of your admissions program. However, with many schools struggling to get by there may eventually be a fee associated with taking the test. Make sure you ask when you schedule your entrance interview and HAT test.

How important is the HAT Test?

While many are requiring the HAT test if you apply for a history degree, the test is just one of many factors that will help determine your admission. You other test scores, your interview, and your academic record also play a large part in you ability to gain admission.  Even if you completely bomb the HAT test your additional facts may be enough to gain entrance into the program. In addition, you can always ask the school what weight the HAT test holds in your admission process.


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As you can see the HAT test is just another way for colleges to weed out students that they feel have no potential. However, the purpose of the HAT test is to determine if the student is a good prospect for the history field. Some people may not be geared towards history while others are. If for some reason your test goes bad you can always consider a degree in another field. History may not be your course.